I had thought our liberal public university was in Iowa City, but a guest commentary by Warren J. Blumenfeld, an associate professor at Iowa State University makes me wonder. His guest commentary in the Des Moines Register concerning the Wall Street protestors supplies more gas for their bonfires. There are enough radicals in SoHo, Berkley, San Francisco and Boulder to incite revolution -- Iowa doesn't need it.
Blumenfeld starts by writing, "There are moments in history when conditions come together to create the impetus for great social change. We now rest on the cusp of one of those foundational moments as greater numbers of people (primarily young) are organizing throughout the nation to challenge the mammoth economic inequities rooted in a pervasive corporate culture that places profits over people and revenues over the environment."
Note that he seems to present his case as factual, not opinion. Of course it is his right to express his opinion, portions shared by many, but I wonder if he presents this sour, one sided case to his students?
His rage continues,"... a corporate culture that dictates economic policy through the purchasing and ownership of politicians at the expense of the people and our country, a corporate culture that eliminates workers' health care and collective bargaining rights, one that promotes and maintains workplace inequalities based on race, nationality, age, sex, sexual identity, gender expression, and disability, one that forecloses our homes through scurrilous business practices, and one that holds students hostage to loan structures that jeopardizes their futures."
The last bit, about student loans, is what really set me off, for the only "solution" I can imagine is free, or nearly free, college tuition. That would require tax dollars from "shoe clerks and secretaries" to subsidize those who may go on to make more money in a decade than they will in a lifetime. The professor continues to present his dour outlook on life without offering any solutions "They are protesting a corporate culture that tortures animals, outsources jobs, manufactures faulty products, privatizes previously public services, obstructs the development and production of clean-energy technology, one that poisons our food and our environment while pushing for deep cuts and restrictions in regulatory procedures," he says. Poisons our food?!
Disparaging the military industrial complex, our educational system, and a "prison industrial complex that perpetuates the racial and socioeconomic class inequities pervasive throughout the society," there seems to be little this man likes about the society that provides him a comfortable salary in a safe land.
I am supportive of peaceful protests that point a sharp finger at a particular demon, but occupying public spaces in a deliberate effort to get arrested on television is wrong. It is just as wrong to protest the wrongs of the world in Des Moines as it would be in Oyens -- oh, little TV coverage there.
The protesting finger should be pointed directly at the body having the power to make the desired improvements. Prison protesters should do it before a legislature. Wall Street is in New York and Boards of Directors pay the outrageous salaries.
Take protests of animal cruelty (which is in the eyes of the beholder) to where the animals are, and locate that manufacturer who is "faulty." Only then will I believe that the majority of protestors are true believers in a specific cause. Until then I will believe that the majority are complainers in it for excitement, rebellion, pleasure, and the 15 minutes of fame (infamy?) that has eluded them.
This is only a generalization but I'd wager a couple bucks that the majority of the protestors of "corporate culture" shop Wal-Mart - not mom and pop shops; McDonalds - not a mom and pop; Drive a foreign car; And, were wearing brand name shoes manufactured in a semi-sweat shop. All of this as they marched to "...reinvigorate the 'American Dream'," as expressed by Blumenfeld.
Oh -- many, if not most, will be sporting more pricy electronic gear than you could have found in a 1990's home.
The ISU associate professor concludes with, "I believe that Pat Parker's poem "Legacy" puts social movement history into perspective:
"... Each generation improves the world for the next. My grandparents willed me strength. My parents willed me pride.
I will to you rage. I give you a world incomplete, a world where women still are property and chattel where color still shuts doors where sexual choice still threatens, but I give you a legacy of doers of people who take risks to chisel the crack wider...."
I am encouraged, and I am following the lead of these young people who have taken the chisel to expand that crack even wider."
Rage? I am discouraged that our students are exposed to such imperialistic radicalism.
Don Paulin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236 -30-